No, I'm not trying to rustle your jimmies but hear me out. I own an Xbox and have nothing against the system personally, so you may be asking yourself where this sudden inflammatory comment is coming from. But if you allow me to explain myself, you'll understand where I'm coming from and perhaps you'll see the my point of view.
Think back to the last generation of gaming, a little bit before the arrival of the Xbox at the start of the new era. At that time video games were ruled by platformers and quirky adventure games and new developers were rising up and becoming popular through experimentation. Developers were trying new ideas in an environment where anyone could be successful because the industry wasn't the juggernaut it is today. While games weren't making a huge impact or billions of dollars, they were still profitable and entertaining.
The Xbox came out a year after the PS2 and completely flipped the game industry upside down. Gamers started flocking to Microsoft's new console with the promise of a new gaming experience with revolutionary multiplayer experience unlike anything seen before. This was the system's main selling point, and while the PS2 had multiplayer it was not anything like the Xbox, who's system was years ahead of it's time. Naturally all the kids wanted to buy the system because it was cool and new, and all the adults wanted it because it offered a new hardcore experience. This is where gaming changed for the worse.
The release of Halo was the catalyst for what was to become the new gaming norm, a new industry over saturated with first person shooters. It was a million dollar blockbuster video game and it was something never seen before, the gaming industry practically changed overnight as publishers were jumping on the opportunity to produce the next great hit. The days of platformers were numbered. With a new rival, Sony and Nintendo had to evolve or die, something they did with ad campaigns and games that try to emulate the success of Halo such as Killzone. Nintendo was not really affected because it had an established fan base, something Sony did not have the luxury of acquiring at this stage in it's development. Of course now we know what the outcome of that was, most games did not have the success that Halo accumulated but a little game titled Call of Duty would learn from Halo's success and become the unstoppable force in the industry it is today.
Of course, if it weren't for the Xbox, video games would probably not be as popular as they are now, but is that what gamers really wanted? The original Xbox attracted a new fanbase which would embrace the FPS craze that was to come, a fanbase that would soon surpass the platformer/adventure obsessed fans of Sony or Nintendo. When the Xbox 360 was announced with another promise of revolution thanks to the new and improved LIVE, the fans flocked to the system like birds to a new shiny object.
The Xbox 360 continued being a trendsetter like it's predecessor, except that with a much larger fanbase that advertised itself with Xbox Live and 24/7 connectivity, it had no real competition. First person shooters found a natural home on the console, where even the worse shooter performed well thanks to the marketing potential of Xbox Live. Customers paid for the service and they were the ones with the power, after all isn't the customer always right? Xbox Live brought in revenue thanks to the paying customers as well as the advertisement that made gaming more mainstream. The producers now had more power than ever before because of this, instead of the customers like in the previous generation. Developers were no longer allowed to experiment because they understood that Xbox gamers would buy any FPS game as long as it had multiplayer. Games started tacking on multiplayer and before anyone knew what was happening every game had multiplayer for the sake of simply having it. Now the market was over crowded with First person shooters, multiplayer in games that didn't use it effectively, and soon DLC would become popular because of Live. Xbox popularized DLC as an acceptable form of extending a game, though at first this was rare and actually improved the game, more developers started exploiting DLC to make a quick buck. This is where we are today.
The game industry today is going downhill because of the lack of variety and media beasts exchanging quality for easy profit. Where might we be if the Xbox was never released? We'll never know. Would CoD be as successful without Xbox? Would there be more platformers and adventure games? Would gaming be nearly as popular? What do you think? Again, this article is not flamebait, it's my analysis on Microsoft's effect on the game industry. I own an Xbox because almost nobody I know has a PS3 or Wii, even though I play most games on those systems, I enjoy playing games with my friends too. Ask any Xbox owner and 90% of the time they'll tell you they got an Xbox because of Xbox Live. If you think I'm wrong, explain in the comments, this is just my opinion.